Makes other airport shuttles shrink
by Jeff Mortimer
"I would say the last six months or so has been slower than [any time in] the last fifteen years," says Metro Eddie, "and especially January and February was scary slow." Metro Eddie--his preferred name--pretty much is Ann Arbor-Detroit Metro Airport Shuttle: one vehicle, one driver. Although he cites other factors, principally the economy, he says competition from AirRide, the AATA-Michigan Flyer bus that began service between downtown and the airport last April, "definitely hurt.
"I'm not against the AirRide because I see where it helps a lot of people," he adds, "but I wouldn't want to be one of these bigger shuttle companies because they're getting slaughtered."
Not according to Dave Reid, president of Select Ride. Reid says his company's various brands--including Custom Shuttle, Arbor Limousine Service, and Yellow Car--still take the most Ann Arborites to and from the airport, about 250 a day. In AirRide's biggest month so far, November, it averaged 182 trips daily. "It hasn't affected us, really, other than we now get some Yellow Car trips from people looking for transportation to the AirRide pickup sites," Reid says. "It's not a directly comparable service. For somebody to take AirRide, they have to book one of just a few times and have to get themselves to the AirRide pickup [point]. For our economical service that's most comparable to AirRide, we have a fifteen-minute pickup window, and we're door to door."
David Fava, who drove for Ann Arbor Airport Shuttle for six years before buying it less than a year ago, says business is down 25 percent since AirRide launched. He's had to lay off one of his four full-time employees and reduce the size of his fleet. "Every now and then, someone will complain about the price" of a trip, he says, "and I say, 'I'm not getting subsidized by the city.'"
[Originally published in April, 2013.]